Joe Brookhouse recently connected with songwriter and theologian Nathan White and his most recent project: an album to be released in partnership with Living Bread Ministries. Nathan touches on his vision for the album, how his recent study of church and mission has impacted his songwriting, and shares a few of his artistic influences – both Christian and secular. Let’s join the conversation.
Joe: The name Nathan White might not be familiar to some folks: what are three things you really want to us know about you?
Nathan: Right…hello! My name is Nathan White and I am confident my name will be familiar with very few save some here in the Forest/Lynchburg, VA area. : ) And first of all, thanks to Joe for this opportunity!
This is a good question. I want people to know that I am striving to know nothing but Jesus the Messiah, and Him crucified. I am keenly aware of some of my inadequacies, and confident that there are more inadequacies of which God will make me aware as I continue this pilgrimage. But it is in recognizing these and still obeying, that God’s strength, wisdom and power are mightily demonstrated and proved. This is accomplished in Christ.
I would like people to know that I am blessedly married to my beautiful wife Dianne! We’ve been married for nearly 12 years (got married early…at 19), and are now expecting (yay!) and farther along than we’ve been before, praise God. I suppose the latter is the third thing I’d like people to know. I am sooooo excited about being a father!! Though it’s too early to tell, I just know it’s going to be a little baby girl! : )
Joe: You are currently working on an album, “He Has Made Us One”. What is your vision for the project and where are you at in the process?
Nathan: Yes sir, we’re working toward the production of what would be considered an EP. Presently all songs that would make up the album (6 or 7), have been written and arranged. We have a place and contact in Nashville where we will, Lord willing, complete the making of the record (thanks Chad Currie!). As of now, we are still in the fundraising stage. We’ve raised nearly half of the cost for the album and are still working diligently, praying, and trusting in the Lord’s timing and resources.
The vision for this project in particular is to raise awareness and support for church planting efforts among the global poor through the venue of a clear and biblical message about the church. Honestly, the music thing becoming such a predominant part of my life is a bit of a surprise to me, so the vision has become clearer as the steps in obedience have been taken. Music has always played a large role in my life, I played in a church band during high school and undergrad, but then once we felt the Lord’s calling to seminary, the Lord just took the desire to play away from me. It was replaced by lots of studying! I didn’t really even miss it, interestingly enough. But late this past summer (2012), God reawakened in me with fervor a desire to play music again. So, after about 8 years of not playing a lick, I picked up the guitar and began writing. Since then, we’ve been praying about what to do with this and God has opened up a door we believe we are to at least walk through, which I’ll say more about in a bit. But all that to say, the vision has become increasingly clear as time has progressed.
Joe: We understand you’ve spent some time recently examining your own understanding of the church and mission. How has that experience demonstrated itself in the songs you’ve written for He Has Made Us One?
Nathan: It has certainly impacted the writing of the songs. The songs all seem to explore the same central subject from varying angles, and this is something that has been close to my heart through both seminary and grad school as I have had the blessing of studying God’s holy Word in rich community. In this regard, I suppose saying I’ve spent “some time recently examining” my understanding of the church is somewhat of an understatement. These songs are the culmination of a few years of study, dialogue, experience and reflection, even across Christian traditions; though I am well aware I have much, much more to learn through both study and experience.
Perhaps the best way to describe the manifestation of this in the songs is to return to the vision of the project as I see it presently: Christ, literally and mysteriously present in his church, and thus the Incarnation still being the answer to all the tribulations the world faces. It is my conviction that the greatest and truest humanitarian effort that can be participated in is the planting of the local church. This statement probably needs justification, and though I won’t do that at length here, I believe it is fully justified. The world was turned upside down and changed because of Christ, relationship by relationship. It is still turned upside down and changed because of Christ—that is, Christ through his Body (Acts 9:4-5). Hungry mouths will be fed, the sex trade will be overcome, the orphan and the fatherless will be fathered, the kingdoms of this world will fall, only by means of the increase and spreading of the Rule and Reign of God among the hearts of men (“…not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit…” Zech. 4:6). God help us enter into that truth and to sincerely, actively, actually believe it.
Joe: What artists (regardless of medium, genre, secular or Christian) influence your music? What specifically inspires or otherwise affects you about their work?
Nathan: This one’s easy: Rich Mullins (who was, is and ever shall be my favorite!), U2, Jackson Browne, Keith Green, The Eagles, Derek Webb, Fernando Ortega. I think it safe to say just about everything about Rich Mullins has affected me. His life produces power through his music. When you find someone who is ardently and humbly obedient to bearing the cross of Christ and who then uses their gifting in obedience, the power and effectiveness of those gifts resonate immensely with the hungry. The same can be said of Keith Green (a forerunner of sorts), and much of Derek Webb’s work. Fernando just soothes and renews me. U2 compels me. Jackson Browne makes me happy (esp. his earlier stuff), and his style of writing is very appealing to me…it’s poetry!. The Eagles for their sheer talent and power musically and vocally.
Joe: I understand you’re partnering with Living Bread Ministries. Tell us more about that organization and how the partnership came be.
Nathan: Living Bread Ministries (LBM) is a ministry that is committed to planting churches among the impoverished and marginalized of the world. They began in 2004 concentrating their efforts in the slums of Brazil. They are now very close to launching the same work in the slums of Thailand. LBM is based in Lynchburg, VA, and the founders are part of the local church to which I belong. Long story short, I sang He Has Made Us One one morning for service (1 Cor. 14:26), and co-founder and president of LBM (who is also one of our pastors and a dear brother and friend), Patrick Hubbard, let me know that the song had resonated with him. As we talked about some of its content and other things God had been teaching us in his Word, he suggested the possibility of a demo in which some information about LBM would be included in the CD cover slip as well as some of the proceeds going toward church planting. We prayed further, talked more, and were confirmed it was something we should pursue…hence the partnership. : )
Joe: For people interested in supporting the album and/or Living Bread Ministries, where can they go to get more information?
Nathan: If anyone is interested in supporting the project/partnership, or if you’re simply interested in learning more about LBM, you can go to the following website:
(I recommend you watch the 5-minute video and explore www.livingbread.org the website)
Here are some other links that include more information about the partnership:
(here you will find information on how to give to the project as well as a link to the song)